Commentary: Behind John, Elizabeth Edwards' public personas

In the case of John and Elizabeth Edwards, a new book's details on the 2008 presidential race reinforce the truism about the corrupting influence of power. Excerpts from the book, "Game Change," highlight the unflattering devolution of North Carolina's once rising star senator who came uncomfortably close to occupying the White House.

As dismaying, the book takes a club to the image of Elizabeth Edwards, whose cancer diagnosis in 2004 at the end of her husband's run for vice president made her a sympathetic figure in the eyes of much of the public. That sympathy solidified when news of her husband's affair with a campaign worker was revealed during the 2008 presidential race. Edwards confessed to the affair in August of that year but so far has not claimed paternity of the child the woman had.

This is all sordid stuff, and mostly illustrates how John Edwards allowed his outsized ambition and ego to overcome his common sense and common decency. We've said before there hasn't been a bigger waste of potential in N.C. history. With his intelligence, work ethic, progressive view of public policy and care for the welfare of those with modest means, he could have done a lot of good as a public servant.

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